Microsoft to drop $486 million for European shopping site

Deal will bring Ciao, one of Europe's leading price-comparison sites, into Microsoft's fold and extend its online presence on the continent.

Update at 5:58 a.m. PDT: Ciao is based in Munich, Germany. Greenfield Online is based in Wilton, Conn.

Microsoft said Friday it has reached a deal to acquire Greenfield Online, the owner of consumer shopping sites, for about $486 million.

Greenfield's properties include Munich, Germany-based Ciao, one of the leading price-comparison and online-shopping sites in Europe. Ultimately, Microsoft said, Ciao's technology platform, online community, and merchant relationships will be integrated with Microsoft's Live Search.

Ciao is a European-based price-comparison and shopping site.

Ciao features consumer reviews and ratings. Microsoft said that, according to ComScore, Ciao has more than 26.5 million unique visitors per month across seven countries, who have generated more than 5 million product reviews.

The deal calls for Microsoft to commence a cash tender offer to purchase all of the outstanding shares of Greenfield for $17.50 per share, or roughly $486 million.

Wilton, Conn.-based Greenfield, which acquired Ciao in 2005, also owns an Internet survey business, which Microsoft plans to sell off. Microsoft said it has already secured an unnamed buyer for that unit.

Both transactions are expected to close during the fourth quarter.

Microsoft's offer for Greenfield trumps an earlier deal. In June, Greenfield said it was in takeover discussions with the Quadrangle Group and had secured an agreement to be acquired for $15.50 per share.

In a press release issued on Friday, Greenfield said that "immediately prior to entry into the merger agreement with Microsoft it had terminated its previously announced merger agreement with affiliates of Quadrangle Group LLC."

In connection with the termination of that deal, Greenfield said it is required to pay Quadrangle a $5 million fee.

About the author

    Mike Ricciuti joined CNET in 1996. He is now CNET News' Boston-based executive editor and east coast bureau chief, serving as department editor for business technology and software covered by CNET News, Reviews, and Download.com. E-mail Mike.

     

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